Why does running hurt NOW?

At the Wisconsin Performance Institute (WPI), we have a host of runners coming in and out of our care. From someone just starting to run recreationally, to those performing on a national stage, pain with running does not discriminate. One question we always get is, “Why does my [insert painful, sore body part here] hurt NOW?”

The answer is not black and white and will not be gleaned in the blink of an eye. However, an explanation of WHY your body’s tissues are talking (or screaming) to you is extremely beneficial and aids in the process of returning to performance.

Exceeding the Envelope of Function

Our bodies are created to withstand and adapt to physical stress. This is why you experience positive change when you go to the gym and lift weights or hop on the bike for some cardio. However, if the physical stress exceeds what the body is capable of handling, compensation and injury will occur. This is what we call “exceeding the envelope of function.”

Exceeding said envelope can be applied to all movement, but we see this occur time and time again with runners. Jogging, running, and/or sprinting are all incredibly complex movements. They require the pillars of mobility, stability, and coordination to be completed both pain-free and at a high level. If any one of those pillars is lacking, issues can and will arise.

Injuries With Running

We see and treat many injuries and problems within our running lab; including but not limited to:

  • Low Back Pain
  • SI Joint Pain
  • “Stiff” Hips
  • Trochanteric (Hip) Bursitis
  • Hamstring Strain
  • “Jumper’s Knee”
  • Patellofemoral (Kneecap) Pain
  • Osgood Schlatter Disease
  • Shin Splints
  • Achilles Tendinopathy
  • Heel Pain
  • Plantar Fasciitis

When it comes to running, biomechanics (or how your body moves and positions) are incredibly important to ensure that the above conditions don’t occur. What’s more is that how we move is dictated largely by what muscles are strongest in our body.

Frequently, we discover that bodies fall into poor positioning, “the path of least resistance”, due to muscle weakness in the gluteal, quadricep, and calf. We coach our runners that “muscles don’t take anatomy and kinesiology” like physical therapists and strength and conditioning professionals do. So, it’s our job to:

  1. Identify what your “path of least resistance” is.
  2. Understand WHY that is occurring.
  3. And address the deficit.

When we are successful in attaining these goals, our runners improve their mechanics/efficiency, decrease their pain, and run faster times. Don’t wait, schedule your running gait analysis with the experts at WPI and you too will be able to run faster, without pain, and improve your performance!